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Richard Farmer’s chunky bits: coal the fuel of choice?

Will coal remain a fuel of choice? The International Energy Agency raises that question in its 

Richard Farmer

Crikey political commentator

Will coal remain a fuel of choice? The International Energy Agency raises that question in its 2012 World Energy Outlook released this week. The agency notes that coal has met nearly half of the rise in global energy demand over the last decade, growing faster even than total renewables. Whether coal demand carries on rising strongly or changes course will depend on the strength of policy measures that favour lower-emissions energy sources, the deployment of more efficient coal-burning technologies and, especially important in the longer term, carbon capture and storage. The agency explains:

“The policy decisions carrying the most weight for the global coal balance will be taken in Beijing and New Delhi — China and India account for almost three-quarters of projected non-OECD coal demand growth (OECD coal use declines). China’s demand peaks around 2020 and is then steady to 2035; coal use in India continues to rise and, by 2025, it overtakes the United States as the world’s second-largest user of coal. Coal trade continues to grow to 2020, at which point India becomes the largest net importer of coal, but then levels off as China’s imports decline. The sensitivity of these trajectories to changes in policy, the development of alternative fuels (e.g. unconventional gas in China) and the timely availability of infrastructure, create much uncertainty for international steam coal markets and prices.”

The aphrodisiac of power. From a senior delegate to the Chinese Communist Party’s national congress comes the news that beautiful women prefer Communist party cadres.

New wave pollsters — Essential and Google are best. About a month ago in these snippets I declared Essential Research to be “my favourite pollster”. That conversion (I had many months previously, wrongly, rather dismissed its relevance for being some new-fangled internet thing) was based on what seemed to me to be sensibly small weekly changes in its findings rather than the dramatic ups-and-downs of the other pollsters. Essential results seemed to tally much better with what Rod Cameron and Margie Gibbs of ANOP used to present me with when working on Labor election campaigns.

Now perhaps I have found an explanation, other than my own gut reaction, of why the pollster Crikey publishes each week might in fact be a better guide than Newspoll and AC Nielsen.

Nate Silver, the election prediction guru of The New York Timeswrote yesterday how, as Americans’ modes of communication change, the techniques that produce the most accurate polls seem to be changing as well. In Tuesday’s presidential election, he says, a number of polling firms that conduct their surveys online had strong results. Some telephone polls also performed well. But others, especially those that called land lines only or took other methodological shortcuts, performed poorly.

As Silver writes:

“Some of the most accurate polling firms this year conducted their polls online. The final poll by Google Consumer Surveys had Obama ahead in the national popular vote by 2.3 percentage points — very close to his actual margin of 2.6 percentage points, as of Saturday morning. Ipsos, which conducted online polls for Reuters, and the Canadian online polling firm Angus Reid also fared well.

“Looking more broadly across the 90 polling firms that conducted at least one likely-voter poll in the final three weeks of the campaign, polling firms that conducted their polls wholly or partially online outperformed others on average. Among the nine in that category, the average error in calling the election result was 2.1 percentage points. That compares with a 3.5-point error for polling firms that used live telephone interviewers and 5.0 points for “robopolls,” which conducted their surveys by automated script.”

A thought for the day from the pollster.

Another award for a national treasure? Earlier this year the London critics hailed Cate Blanchett as “mesmerising”, “magnificent” and “beyond terrific” for her role on stage at The Barbican in Big And Small, written by German playwright Botho Strauss in 1978. Overnight, in the same week she so deservedly was awarded an honorary doctorate from Sydney University for her services to the arts, the actress and Sydney Theatre company co-director made the short-list for for the best actress prize at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards

News and views noted along the way. 

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One thought on “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits: coal the fuel of choice?

  1. spoetmoenkey

    Essential jumps around less because the figures they publish are a two-week rolling average. Nothing to do with collection method, everything to do with half of last week’s sample still being in this week’s sample. Simples!